Thursday, April 30, 2009

Genres and the results of "What's your favourite subject matter?"

Making A Mark Poll (April 2009) - What's your favourite subject matter?

At the beginning of April I asked What's your favourite subject matter?. What do you like to draw or paint the most? This post reports on
  • the results of this month's Making A Mark Poll
  • a commentary on what the results mean - highlighting some implications for art publications and art education/classes/workshop
  • a synopsis about genre art and the traditional hierarchy of genres - how art was categorised in the past.
Results of the Poll

173 of you responded to the poll (in the sidebar) and told me what you like best. Here's my analysis of what the polls tells us and my comments on the results.

Please feel free to add your comments on the results below.
  • Portraits / Figures are the most popular subject for artwork. Around a quarter of you like drawing and painting people and figures best of all
  • Add in animals/wildlife and creating portraits of living beings accounts for some 40% of respondents
  • The second most popular subject are scenes - whether these are landscapes, urban scenes or scenes of interiors - 18% prefer 'the big picture.
  • People whose favourite subject is Animals and/or wildlife accounted for 16% of the responses.
  • In the middle of the poll, we find that 15% of you like to draw and paint anything and everything. This figure could have been a lot bigger. However I rather suspect that some of who tend to draw or paint more than one subject had to make a decision about whether we said we genuingly had not preference (ie anything and everything) or whether we did have a favourite. I know I certainly had to have a long ponder before I answered my own poll!
  • Drawing or painting flowers or producing botanical art attracted 12% of the poll - which is 50% more than the number who voted for still life as being their favourite subject (8%)
  • Only 5% are motivated by ideas and involved in the development of conceptual or symbolic art. I'd expect to get a much higher percentage than this if I was asking full time professional contemporary artists. I'm wondering whether this very low percentage is because most readers are people who don't routinely produce art based on an idea.
  • Even fewer (3%) had any sort of narrative commonly running through their art.
What this means

Here are some suggested implications of this poll.

  • Portrait artists will always find themselves with lots of company and competition when it comes to attracting commissions
  • Portrait competitions will always attract a lot of entries
  • Art Publishers should note (if they haven't already!), that books about portraits and portraiture will always find a ready market with artists wanting to find out more about how to produce a good portrait
  • Tutors providing portrait workshops should generate good business
  • The poll explains why one of my most popular posts is 10 Tips for How to Sketch People!
  • You can find more information, advice and resources in Portraiture - Resources for Artists
Scenes - landscapes/urban/interiors
  • I'm wondering whether this topic is maybe favoured by those artists who don't like drawing figures? Yet many a scene has been enlivened through the addition of figures.
Animals / wildlife
  • Changes in the way we relate to animals and a number of artists' support for conservation now makes this a very important category for art.
  • The number of wildlife exhibitions and competitions are increasing all the time and always get lots of entries and lots of interest from the public.
  • The public are also rather fond of having their own pets immortalised in art!
Flowers/Botanical Art
Still Life
  • The 'still life' is a genre beloved of daily painters - and yet in general it's not a popular subject area. It was ever thus - see more about the hierachy of genres below.
  • Maybe still life artists experience less competition when entering an art competition?
  • You can find information and advice about drawing and painting Still Life - Resources for Artists
Narrative, conceptual and symbolic art
  • The current preferences of artists responding to this poll appear to relate more to contemporary realism
  • The traditional respect for narrative, important concepts and symbolism is no longer a priority. See more about the hierarchy of genres in the past below
What is a genre and the hierarchy of genres?

is the word used to describe broad categories or types of paintings. Confusing one of those genres is itself called genre painting!

In painting, there has also been a traditional hierarchy of genres in the art history. This is the Tate Gallery's definition of what this means.
The genres, or types of painting, were codified in the seventeenth century by the French Royal Academy. In descending order of importance the genres were History, Portrait, Genre, Landscape, and Still life. This league table, known as the hierarchy of the genres, was based on the notion of man the measure of all things – landscape and still life were the lowest because they did not involve human subject matter. History was highest because it dealt with the noblest events of human history and with religion.
Tate Glossary - Genres
Here's an alternative version
A hierarchy of genres is any formalization which ranks different types of genres in an art-form in terms of their value. The most well known set of hierarchies are those held by academies in Europe between the 17th century and the modern era, and of these the hierarchy for the genres of painting held by the Académie française which held a central role in Academic art.
There's another good discussion of the hierarchy of genre painting on this website. This highlights the artists and works associated with different genres.

These genres in hierarchical order are:
  • History painting - The "grand genre" - History paintings took ideas, characters and aspects of religion, mythology, history and allegory as their subject matter - anything which conveyed a moral or intellectual message.
  • Portrait painting - where the intent is to depict the visual appearance of the subject - whether historic and larger than life or familiar and small.
  • Genre works - genre painting depicts scenes from and aspects of everyday life by portraying ordinary people engaged in common activities. Genre artworks were also typically smaller works of art - on a domestic scale.
  • Landscape painting - traditionally depicts 'the scenic view' as found in the countryside (mountains, valleys, trees, rivers, and forests) around water (sescapes, lakes and rivers) or in towns and cities.
  • Still life painting has typically been small scales and traditionally has been considered the least elevated of the genres - especially when the portrayal of everyday objects had no underlying meaning or message.
The notion was that paintings which just reported 'facts' with no element of moral message or artistic imagination were somehow inferior to those which employed what were considered to be important aspects of art. The 'moral force' of art stemmed from the use of ideas and creativity.

Artcylopedia Categories of Artists

If you're interested you'll find below the categories used by Artcyclopedia to categorise the subject matter of different artists. I've allocated them between the different categories used in the poll.

Portraits and figures
Scenes - landscape / urban / interiors
Animals/ Wildlife
Flowers/Botanical Art
Still life
Narrative (the story is the main focus)
Conceptual / symbolic
  • none
More subject matter

The types of artists not covered by the poll include: Children's Books; Comic Art; Fantasy Art; Orientalism; Photojournalism; Sporting Art; Western Art . AbsoluteArts also comes up with a very long lost of different types of subject matter - with no sense of hierarchy whatsoever!


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The biggest exhibition of coloured pencil artwork in the UK

When I was talking to Susan Christopher Coulson last Thursday, she commented that there was a big increase in coloured pencil art in the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists this year.

I'd also noticed a significant increase in coloured pencil art in the same exhibition last year and, after hearing Susan's comment and seeing the exhibition for myself, I'd decided that at some point I'd do a count up of artists and work.

Susan Christopher Coulson with her suite of five botanical drawings in coloured pencils
copyright the artists / photographed with permission of the SBA

Well this morning I did that count - and I am now officially dumbfounded! The 24 artists listed below are displaying a total of 73 artworks.

Which actually means that the SBA Annual Exhibition is currently providing the largest display of coloured pencil artwork in the UK in the last 12 months (although obviously not an exhibition which is a dedicated display of coloured pencil art.)

Artists using coloured pencils for botanical art and flowers depicting flowers and gardens are:
  • Elizabeth Andrews (1 CP drawing)
  • Vivien Burgess ARMS SBA HS SFP (1 CP drawing)
  • Fiona Burkeman (1 CP drawing)
  • Susan Christopher-Coulson SBA SFP GM CBM (5 CP drawings)
  • Mary Dearing SBA (3 CP drawings)
  • Diane Gould (4 CP drawings)
  • Brenda M Green Assoc SBA (4 CP drawings)
  • Amber Halsall SBA (1 CP drawing)
  • Margaret Hatherly-Champ FCPGFS (3 CP drawings)
  • Sue Henon SBA (4 CP drawings)
  • Charlotte Hodgson (2 CP drawings)
  • Marilyn Hughes (4 CP drawings)
  • Mary Lasserson SBA (4 CP drawings)
  • Sue Manton (1 CP drawings)
  • Rachel Munn SBA (5 CP drawings)
  • Dawn Munns SFP (2 CP drawings)
  • Janet O'Connor Assoc SBA (4 CP drawings)
  • Janie Pirie SBA UKCPS SGM (5 CP drawings)
  • Susan J Puttick (1 CP drawing)
  • Fusako Sakaoka SBA (5 CP drawings)
  • Ann Swan SBA GM CBM (5 CP drawings)
  • Katherine Tyrrell (2 CP drawings) - that'll be me!
  • Janet Wilkinson Assoc SBA (4 CP drawings)
  • Jan Wilson (2 CP drawings)
I'm convinced that Ann Swan and Susan Christopher Coulson between them are personally responsible for much of this explosion in the use of coloured pencils for botanical artwork! I also know that some of the artists who are now displaying work and achieving awards and recognition are former students from their workshops. I do know that I was bowled over and inspired by the quality of their work when I first visited this exhibition back in 2006.

It's also good to know that both SBA publications (The Art of Botanical Painting and The Botanical Palette: Colour for the Botanical Painter) plus the Distance Learning Diploma Course also formally recognise coloured pencil as a medium used to produce botanical art.

If you're particularly interested in coloured pencil art and seeing what can be achieved when using coloured pencils, I highly recommend a visit to the exhibition, which closes on Sunday. I can certainly vouch for the fact that actually getting to see coloured pencil artwork 'face to framed work' (as it were) after only seeing the artwork of other coloured pencil artists in books or online is an extremely enlightening experience.

Plus seeing the artwork of coloured pencil artists who in the past have won gold medals (denoted as GM above) for botanical art from the Royal Horticultural Society is something else again!
Note: For those following my technology woes - the verdict from the engineer at 6.30am this morning was that the motor on my washing machine had burnt out and had 'taken out' the digital 'doings' as well. Which makes the repair too expensive for a 10 year old machine. Which means that's the 4th dead appliance in 3 weeks and I now need a new washing machine to go with the new computer and the new TV and the major repairs to the car and laptop in the last three weeks. I've done an hour on the web searching for a suitable replacement and decided that I needed another dose of botanical art to cheer me up! Which I'm also getting this afternoon when I meet up with Felicity Grace (Felicity's Philosophies and Other Curiosities) at the exhibition. Which means Doris Joa that I can now take a photo of your work! :)
Previous posts about this exhibition on Making A Mark
Information sites about botanical art

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Thomas Bewick - wood engraver and naturalist

Ever since I got interested in printmaking and going to exhibitions and reading books and online resources I keep seeing the name Thomas Bewick.

He's known as the 'father of wood engraving' - so I've started to find out more about him - and this post marks the beginning of that exercise.

I've also created a website to record all my bookmarks - which I can then share with others who are also interested - Thomas Bewick - Resources for Art Lovers

Barn Owl Tyto alba by Thomas Bewick
History of British Birds (Land Birds)

This particular post is prompted by an exhibition in Birmingham and a video I watched yesterday. Those enthusiastic about one of the very great wood engravers and/or natural history and/or wildlife art and/or miniature art won't want to miss Thomas Bewick: Tale-Pieces at the Ikon gallery in Birmingham until 25 May.

This pdf file explains what the exhibition is about and there's also a video about Thomas Bewick by Ian Bain - a printing historian and authority of Thomas Bewick. Anybody who is interested in printmaking will be absolutely fascinated by this interview.

This is the Guardian's review of the exhibition - All the world in two by three inches is an article.
We know Bewick for his beautiful woodcuts of birds, but his detail-laden vignettes of country people are as rich as Goya or Blake..... Bewick's engravings are amazingly small - two or three inches - and minutely amazing. Peer into these tiny vignettes and both your pupils and your mind dilate. How can so much of life be condensed?
Why is Thomas Bewick special?

(Left) Dalmation (1790) by Thomas Bewick 4.9 x 8.3 cm
(Right) Goldfinch (1797) by Thomas Bewick 5 x 8 cm

Thomas Bewick has multiple claims to fame.
  • Thomas Bewick revolutionised wood engraving in the eighteenth century by using tools previously used for engraving on metals on hard box wood
  • Bewick pioneered the use of a wood engraving (cut on the end grain of a hard wood such as boxwood) so that it could be printed simultaneously with the letterpress. This meant that an illustration could appear on the same page as its related text.
  • He was both an artist and an engraver. His work demonstrates both an excellent ability to observe and draw from life and a dexterity in skill in engraving never seen before on wood and rarely seen since
  • he loved nature, animals and birds and developed two comprehensive works A General History of Quadrupeds: The Figures Engraved on Wood (1790) and A History of British Birds - published in two columes for Land Birds (1797) and Water Birds (1804)
  • Most of his work is small in scale and some of it confounds the eye and would grace any exhibition of miniature art.
Take a look at some of the links in Thomas Bewick - Resources for Art Lovers and see for yourself.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Who are the "best and the brightest" artists?

"The best and the brightest" is a term which gets bandied around from time to time.

As the credit crunch progressed, I began to wonder more and more why the term was frequently applied to describe those who worked in Wall Street and why they deserved their mega salaries and bonuses. I found myself nodding vigorously as I read through a blog post titled Better and Brighter by Judith Warner on the New York times which questioned when/why the phrase "best and brightest" came to be applied to people who work on Wall Street. I'm not sure how many would agree about that they deserve this description now. I'd quite like to export rather a lot of them to very distant shores!

Clemente Pomegranate
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Then I began to wonder about who are the "best and the brightest" in terms of contemporary artists.

Thoughts were stimulated at least in part by the way the wheels appeared to be coming off that steamroller formerly known as the contemporary art market.

Then I began to wonder what criteria are used to determine who are the "best and the brightest".

I would argue for example, that a lot of the 'kudos' directed at the Brit Artists (Damien Hirst et al) was stimulated by some very clever marketing rather than very clever ideas, originality or innovation. Marketing may be clever but it doesn't create substance!

I don't have any answers - but I do think it's an interesting question. One which also generates some other questions such as:
  • What does "best" mean and who are the best? According to whose criteria?
  • "What does "brightest" mean? Is about intelligence and being 'clever' or does it mean something else?
  • Who is qualified to say who are the "best and the brightest"? (How do you avoid the term being used for pure hype?)
  • Are the "best and brightest" about promise or delivery? (Do the lights dim?)
  • Is it about being inspirational or being authentic or both?
  • Are the "best and the brightest" artists the ones who make the most money?
  • Do the "best and the brightest" generate art of lasting value? If so, how long do we need to wait before we can determine who are the "best and the brightest" artists?
I'm sure you can think of some more questions - and maybe even suggest a few answers!

I'm always very nervous about putting up my art on blog posts of this sort! Which is why you're getting an old one!

Do please feel free to comment, ask more questions or even try and provide some answers.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

26th April 2009 - Who's made a mark this week?

This week I've been very absorbed with the Annual "Flowers and Gardens" Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists. - not least because I've got two works in it for the first time!

However the main reason for the preoccupation is that I was so impressed (and humbled) by the quality of the work when I visited the Private View on Thursday. Hence why I decided to have two posts about it this year.
The image today is of the two watercolour paintings which won two of the major prizes at the SBA Annual Exhibition.

(top) Winner of the Margaret Grainger Memorial Bowl (for the best painting by a member within 2 years elected in the previous two years) - Helianthus, August Sunflower by Fiona Strickland DA SBA GM
(bottom) Winner of The Joyce Cumming Presentation Award
Banksia integrifolia seedcone
by Graham Corbett

copyright the artists / photographed with permission of the SBA

Congratulations also to Tracy Hall (Watercolour Artist Diary), Doris Joa (Romantic roses in watercolour) and Denise Ryan who have also got work in the show.

Art Blogs

Don't forget to vote in the poll (see right hand column) about What's your favourite subject matter? There's just three days left to join the 150+ people who have already voted. An analysis of the results will be posted on Friday.

Drawing and sketching
Coloured pencils and pastels
All you have to do is email a sharp jpg with a title, size, medium and your name and blog or website address. If you'd like to give some background on the piece, that would be cool. Sorry, no photographs, no digital artwork. Only drawings and paintings.
  • Duane Keiser has changed his original blog back to its original name - a Painting a Day. I guess when that's the name everybody knows you by it's probably best to keep it! Duane is going to be painting in Northeast Harbor in Maine for the entire month of July - I wonder if we'll see Postcard from Maine.
  • Is it a general consensus that (like Duane) it's a good idea to keep sales blogs separate from studio/discussion blogs? Tina Mammoser (The Cycling Artist) has started using her new blog called The Cycling Artist - Paintings of the Coast to post current works available to purchase with exclusive blog-only items such as drawings and studies.
  • Sherrie (Brush and Baren) has a nice WIP about producing some treeny tiny linocuts - A tiny flock of sparrows
  • I was going to write briefly about a Thomas Bewick exhibition - but it's turned into a blog post for next week instead!
Art Group Blogs

This week the members of the Watermarks blog had a bit of a posting extravaganza on Earth Day - and we came up with various posts to do with appreciation of our environment and why we need to protect it. These are the posts:

Art Business and Marketing

  • I'm getting the impression that eBay is becoming less important to artists in terms of online sales. For people who are still selling via eBay, the Auction Bytes Blog and other sites have news of some changes on eBay
Art and the economy

The downturn

  • The top 25 arts destinations in terms of big, medium sized and small cities in the USA can be found in an article in American Style.

Art Competitions

Art Education

Art Exhibitions

  • The 142nd Exhibition of the American Watercolor Society goes on the road next month. This is the Traveling Exhibition Schedule for anybody living in Texas, Alabama, Tenneessee, Virginia, Florida and Massachusetts who'd like to see it. I was very surprised to see that there's no trip planned to the thriving art communities on the west coast. Does anybody know why that is?
  • There is an exhibition of Roy Lichtenstein's work in an exhibition at the Katonah Museum of Art (which for some reason doesn't appear to have a website!). The New York Times has a review titled In Sketches and Collages: Lichtenstein’s Workaday Musings
  • I wrote in Auditioning for SOFA about submitting work for the Society of Feline Artists exhibition. Yesterday afternoon I had a phone call from the Gallery and two works have been accepted into the exhibition (Meet the Kittens and Kittens Rule OK!) and it looks as though Meet the Kittens will also be in the official SOFA/Gallery PV invitation/catalogue - which is a first for me!

Art History

Art Supplies

  • On Making a Mark reviews...... I did an update on the poll Which is your favourite make of artist grade coloured pencil? which I've been running on my coloured pencils information site. for some time. It now has over 500 responses and shows Polychromos still neck and neck with Prismacolor - but the rankings behind them have changed in the last 9 months since the last update. I'm interested in hearing from people happy to review different brands of coloured pencils.
  • Tracy Helgeson (Works by Tracy Helgeson) has been writing about My Palette - a fascinating read given the nature of Tracy's strong colourist approach to painting. You can also get a really goo indisght into how Tracy works, her set-up and how she stores her paints. Great comments too - also sharing approaches to organising paints.
The colors that I currently am obsessed with (these colors change periodically, I am very fickle) are Indigo Blue, Green Ural, Medium Cadmium Yellow, Azo Green, Gamblin Light Blue, Caeser Purple, Vasari Ship Rock, Gamblin Light Magenta, Gamblin Cadmium Red Deep, Cobalt Green Pale, Cinnabar Green Light, Old Holland Violet Grey.

Book reviews

  • Guess what - I came away from the SBA exhibition with two new books!
  • Book Review: Colored Pencil Secrets for Success is about Ann Kullberg's brand new book which is due to published next month.
  • There's a fascinating blog post about The Google Settlement on the Grayson Agency which should be read by every author or would-be author. It also sets a precedent in relation to copyright infringement - which might just get used in relation to visual material as well as books. This is a link to a pdf file AGLA Guide to the Google Settlement. Opting out or lodging objections must be done before 5th May!
Grumpy Literary Agent’s comments on the Google Settlement
The more we have studied this, the worse the situation and the implications have become.


My last post on the topic of Sheryl Luxenburg - American Watercolor Society Gold Medal - the final verdict on Sheryl Luxenburg - is apparently NOT the final verdict. That has been left to the Society of Canadian Artists (SCA). Many of you will recall the furore associated with the award of the American Watercolor Society's Gold Medal in 2008. You may recall at the time she asserted that she'd made a simple mistake. It turns out that she's made it more than once.

Below you'll find an extract from a statement about prizes won by Ms Luxemburg on the website of the SCA. Awards made to her have been rescinded and she has also been banned from entering future competitions held by the SCA. I'm guessing few will now need reminders of the complete folly of copying other people's work! I cannot help but feel that people might now draw their own conclusions about other aspects of her work and her 'unique technique'.

In its statement of Policies and Procedures, Under By-law No. One, the SCA clearly stipulates that "Artists may submit works of art in all media. Entries must not be copies, derivatives, or based in any way on other copyrighted or published paintings, photographs or other artistic work." Also, entry forms signed by the artist carry either or both a reminder and a disclaimer to that effect.

It having been determined, through careful examination, that Ms. Luxenburg's entries in both SCA's 39th Annual Open Juried Exhibition in 2006, at Todmorden, and in SCA's 40th National Open Exhibition in August 2007, at Ogilvy in Montreal violated this fundamental principle governing SCA's eligibility requirements, the SCA rescinded recognition of these awards and requested that Medallion and prize moneys be returned. Also, Ms Luxenburg's membership in the Society of Canadian Artists has been permanently revoked, and she is disqualified from entering any future SCA exhibitions.

2006 and 2007 SCA AWARDS

Tips and Techniques

Drawing of a fruit tree meadow
Martin Stankewitz

Websites and Blogging

and finally.........

I think I may have offended the Technology Fairy. In the last three weeks, my 13 month old Vaio laptop died, the desktop began to malfunction due to a registry error; then the major car repair had added extras which I wasn't expecting.

This week

  • the TV died very quietly on Wednesday night in the middle of Channel 4 News. Not entirely unexpected but the timing was atrocious!
  • and very reliable washing machine threw a wobbly yesterday afternoon and now has an error code which isn't in the manual - and a load of washing inside!
I'm now left looking at the remaining technology and wondering what else if going to go pffffft!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Exhibition Review: Society of Botanical Artists #2

Society of Botanical Artists - The Private View copyright the artists /all photography by permission of the SBA

This post focuses on individual artists in this year's Annual "Flowers and Gardens" Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists. [Now updated to include all the details of prizewinners] One of the nice things about this particular exhibition is that although the majority of work is exceptional botanical art, its theme is 'flowers and gardens' and hence not all work has to be in a 'strict' botanical style. It makes for a nice mix which is very pleading to the eye. After yesterday's 'overview' review of the exhibition, I went back to the exhibition at the end of yesterday afternoon to have another look to try and sort out a shortlist of artists to feature today.
(top) Daler Rowney Choice Award - Lyschiton americanus by Shirley Slocock Assoc SBA, ASBA, CPGFS (bottom) Iris by Jan Harbon SBA SFP SGM copyright the artists

Well! I started with the notion of half a dozen - which very rapidly expanded to "my top ten" which rocketed forward to a baker's dozen before I decided I had to have another think! There really are that many good artists - and more - who deserve a mention. In fact 721 drawings and paintings, 7 miniatures and 40 sculptures by 228 artists competed for my attention! 

If you're not able to get to see the exhibition you can see a good selection of the SBA members works in the gallery on the SBA website. So in the end, I decided that I wouldn't say a lot this year about artists I've mentioned in the past. 

Plus I'd also try and highlight prizewinners where I could - and then make sure I mentioned the people who've I've not mentioned before who I thought deserved a mention! 

Here are the artists whose work I particularly liked. 
  • Shirley Slocock AssocSBA, ASBA who is Vice Chair of the Hampton Court Palace Florilegium Society. Her watercolour painting Lysichiton americanus (see top right) is very large and very impressive and won the The Daler Rowney Choice Award. It was my second choice for thePeople's Choice Award. I also really liked the two very small paintings she produced of two bulbs. She has a talent for producing saturated and beautifully graded watercolours. I'm guessing that the very smooth surface she uses may help in some way. 
Works by (left) Fiona Strickland and (right) Eiko Hamada copyright the artists

There's something very satisfying about seeing sets of paintings. While you don't get to see the sets of 8+ paintings which are exhibited at the Royal Horticultural Society one frequently sees sets of a smaller number of paintings.
  • Scottish artist Fiona Strickland DA SBA GM who was elected to full membership of the Society last year in her year of exhibiting with SBA. Her sunflowers are simply stunning and this year Fiona won the Margaret Grainger Memorial Bowl (for the best painting by a member within 2 years elected in the previous two years) for Helianthus, August Sunflower. Last year I said I'd like to know more about her and this year she has a members page on the SBA website.
  • Eiko Hamada AssocSBA GM produced a beautiful set of meticulous watercolour paintings of coniferous tree branches and their cones. These have earned her a Certificate of Botanical Merit and a Highly Commended award.
  • I loved the set of hydrangeas by Jean Ricketts GM
  • Wendy Cranston's set of small gouache paintings of fruit were very attractive and a good example of work which fell outside the 'strictly botanical'
Some artists were working in monochrome. 
  • Guy William Eves had two examples of very impressive and meticulous pencil work on display - Orchid and Skimmia Japponica (although the prices quoted at the SBA exhibition are lower than the ones in these links).  
Some artists have a very strong design element to their work. 
  • One such is Billy Showell BA SBA CBM (01,02,03,04,05,07) whose Pointed Cabbage was the runner up for the St Cutherberts Mill Award. However it was her designs with flowers, leaves and fruit in heart shapes which caught my eye!
Works by (left) Janie Pirie and (right) Billy Showell copyright the artists

Yet again this year there are more and more artists who are using coloured pencil for their submissions to this show. I've commented on Ann Swan in the past. 
  • This year I was particularly struck by the work of Janie Pirie SBA UKCPS SGM which provides an excellent example of what can be done with coloured pencils. I loved her hydrangea although it was her sweetcorn which won her a Highly Commended. 
  •  I also loved the "Scatterings" approach used by Susan Christopher Coulson BA(Hons) SBA SFP GM. for her coloured pencil drawings of Cyclamens and Rosehips
  • Sylvia Balch SBA, SM for watercolour paintings of roses
I've got to make a special mention of work by a couple of SBA Diploma Students Ann Carrodus (Narcissus, Ivy and Hazel) and Marilyn Cox (Working in the Field Assignment) whose work is truly inspiring.

The Joyce Cumming Presentation Award was won by Graham Corbett for Banksia integrifolia seedcone. Artists who were Highly Commended in the assessment of this prize were:
St Cuthbert's Mill Award for an outstanding watercolour painting Scabiosa (watercolour - top left in photo) by Cheryl Wilbraham copyright the artists

The St Cuthbert's Mill Award
for an outstanding watercolour painting has been awarded to Cheryl Wilbraham for a watercolour painting of Scabiosa. The President's Award for Work in Other Media is a cash prize for work in media other than pure watercolour. This was given to Neoregelia (gouache) by Simon Williams SBA SGM CBM(01, 03) . You can see this painting in the top right of the first photo in yesterday's blog post

The Margaret Stevens Award for an artist whose work reflects their concern for the the environment - was awarded this year to Marion Perkins SBA MIL FRSA CMB(07) for Rainforest and Toucan; Rainforest and Red-crested Touraco and Rainforest and Malagasi Duck

The Margaret Stevens Award a suite of work related to the rainforest by Marion Perkins copyright the artist
Artists who were awarded
Certificates of Botanical Merit are:
  • Graham Singleton-Reed Assoc. SBA for Crocus vernus
  • Lorraine Lambeth DipSBA for Passiflora
  • Noreen Taylor for Hedera helix for Common English Ivy
  • Fiona Strickland SBA for Helianthus, August Sunflower
  • Brigitte EM Daniel SBA for Catalpa bignonioides - Indian Bean Tree
  • Eiko Hamada Assoc SBA for Cedrus deodara
  • Hannelore Dahin DipSBA for Aesculus hippocastanum
  • Gaynor Dickeson SBA for Celeriac
The People's Choice Award will be announced at the end of the exhibition. For the record I voted for Giant Poppy Seed Heads in coloured pencil by Susan Christopher Coulson BA(Hons) SBA SFP GM. My eye just kept coming back to it! You can see it in the picture at the beginning of yesterday's post. Demonstrations are run every day throughout the show. The remaining demonstrations are as follows:
  • Sunday 26th April - Sandra Wall Armitage SBA (11am - 3.30pm - botanical)
  • Monday 27th April - Margaret Hammond AssocSBA (11am - 5pm pastel - freestyle)
  • Tuesday 28th April - Gillian French SBA (10am - 5pm watercolour - freestyle)
  • Wednesday 29th April - Sue Vise AssocSBA (pencil - botanical)
  • Thursday 30th April Jan Harbon SBA (11am - 5pm mixed media freestyle)
  • Friday 1st May - Marilyn Wheeler DLDC student (watercolour from photographs)
  • Saturday 2nd May - Ann Swan SBA (11am - 4pm coloured pencil - botanical)
  • Sunday 3rd May Jane Leycester Paige FSBA (10am - 1pm watercolour - botanical)
  • Sunday 3rd May Sandrine Maugy SBA (2pm - 5pm watercolour - botanical)
Links: Previous posts about this exhibition on Making A Mark Information sites about botanical art

Friday, April 24, 2009

Exhibition Review: Society of Botanical Artists #1

Work on display at the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists
copyright the artists (all photos with permission of the SBA)

The standard of work at this year's Annual "Flowers and Gardens" Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists is simply stunning. I urge all artists who have ever wanted to pursue botanical or floral art to go and take a look at the quality of the 700+ works on display.

I'm extremely proud to have two of my pieces in this show but would have loved to have said I was the artist behind any of a huge number of the artworks on display. The standards of both artistry and craftsmanship are extremely high. In fact so high that I'm splitting this review and I will be doing a second post tomorrow which will focus on the work of individual artists.

(Left) Four watercolours by Graham Singleton Reed AssocSBA SGM
(Right) Potential and Prelude by Katherine Tyrrell

copyright - the artists

Yesterday was the Private View and the exhibition opens to the public today and is then open daily from 10am to 5pm until the 3rd May. The exhibition is being held at Central Hall, Westminster, London; admission is free and all works are for sale.

There were a huge number of people at the Private View yesterday with a solid mix of members, fans and very serious collectors. As I've indicated in past posts, I have a feeling that genre art - where it has a history of being highly collectable (botanical, miniaturists, wildlife) is probably largely exempt from the recession. Like the miniaturists last autumn I fully expect this exhibition to generate an awful lot of sales - there were certainly a lot of red dots going up on the works yesterday.

One of things which stood out for me was the extraordinarily impressive display of art by the students of the Distance Learning Diploma Course (a small sample of which you can see on the left).

I caught sight of Dr Shirley Sherwood admiring the diploma work at one point. Dr Sherwood has an extensive collection of botanical art by contemporary botanical artists and sponsored and gave her name to the new botanical art gallery at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. Good to see an avid collector keeping her eye on the rising stars of the future!

The display of their work has moved to a better lit position and this year framed work is on display as well as mounted works and there really were some quite amazing pieces on display. The course has very obviously helped people to achieve a very high standard of work.

The exhibition this year also has a display by Suzanne Lucas MBE FPSBA (1915-2008), Founder of the Society of Botanical Artists who passed away peacefully last December, after a long illness. Having now seen her work for the first time I can well understand why this particular Society sets a very high standard for both its students, members and (dare I say it!) those whose artwork is shown in its Annual Exhibition.

Don't forget to come back and read and see more about the exhibition tomorrow!

Parrot Tulips by Suzanne Lucas FPSBA
Back cover of the catalogue for
the SBA Flowers and Gardens exhibition 2009

Previous posts about this exhibition on Making A Mark
Information sites about botanical art

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Auditioning for SOFA

(left to right) Meet the Kittens, The Kittie Sitter, Kittens rule OK!
all coloured pencils on Arches HP
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

These are my three coloured pencil drawings which are currently auditioning for the catalogue for the Society of Feline Artists 13th Annual Exhibition at the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery (28th August to 18th September 2009). The Gallery likes to have all the images in by mid April. My submission scaped in just in time as I had to get both the new computer and then the new graphics package sorted out first!

This is a quickie post today as today I'm off to the Private View for the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists at Westminster Hall - which this year includes two of my drawings! The show opens to the pblic on Friday.

I'll be doing a review tomorrow with photographs plus a count up of how many coloured pencil artists are included this year!